Celebrating 40 Years of Friendship, Cooperation with China

As 2022 comes to an end, the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) would like to recognize the anniversary of its office in Beijing, China, which celebrated 40 years earlier in 2022.

“Wow, 40 years,” said USGC Vice President Cary Sifferath. “That shows the commitment USGC and our members have for market development and working in key demand-building markets. Forty years of working with China’s feed and livestock industry, as well as their corn processing and food and beverage industries, over that time. The partnership between USGC and the China industry, through some unique and even trying times, has brought us to where we are today with China being a top customer of grains in all forms.”

A few years before the office’s opening, former Council President Darwin Stolte took part in a market assessment trip to China. During that time, it became clear China and the U.S. could work together to help modernize Chinese agriculture, while finding a new home for U.S. grains. The Council officially opened its Beijing office in 1982 and has since continued to conduct programs in and missions to China, one of the largest grain export partners.

“As we commemorate this milestone and reflect on the rapid growth and development witnessed in the People’s Republic of China over the same period, I think of the longstanding partnerships forged along the way and the exemplary work accomplished by my predecessors and colleagues here at the Council’s Beijing office over the last 40 years,” said Manuel Sanchez, USGC director in China.

“The work of the Beijing, China office over the previous four decades serves as a testament to the Council’s mission of developing markets, enabling trade and improving lives.”

More photos can be viewed on the Council’s social media pages.

In 1985, the Council and China’s National Feedstuffs Corporation worked together on a pilot feed mill project. The result of that project, the Nanjing pre-mix feed mill, was the first of its kind in China.

During the Council’s Asia Staff Conference in 1994, several staff members from the Washington, D.C., office and the organization’s Asia offices visited the Great Wall outside of Beijing.


Pictured from left to right are (back row) Hideo Sakaguchi, former Japan assistant director; Ken Hobbie, former CEO; Mike Callahan, former director of international operations/Asia; Rick Tolman, former executive director of international operations; Erick Erickson, former director of long-term planning; Byong Ryol Min, former Korea assistant director; Sam Niu, former China assistant director; CM Lynn, former Taiwan Director; (front row) Clover Chang, former Taiwan assistant director; Jeff Brown, former China director; Larry Groce, USFGC chairman at the time; Cary Sifferath, former manager of international operations/Asia; and Judy Chang.

Sifferath (center), along with former Assistant Director in China Sam Niu (left) and Guy Davenport of North Carolina (right), can be seen here examining ears of corn in China during a 2009 mission.

Since 2014, China has been the top U.S. sorghum export customer, purchasing 6.5 million metric tons in the 2021/22 marketing year. Pictured is the first U.S. sorghum shipment arriving in China in 2013.

Today, Council programming in China has expanded from coarse grains, co-products and ethanol to barley malt used in the Chinese craft beer industry. Staff members in the Beijing office can be seen here at the China International Import Expo from earlier this year, where they highlighted the Council’s efforts around the world and offered a taste of craft beer made from U.S. barley.